Episode #91: Emily Rebalanced her Hormones and Transformed her Fitness

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Emily Rebalanced her Hormones and Transformed her Fitness

What you’ll learn in this episode

This episode of the PCOS Repair podcast, shares the inspiring story of Emily, who faced the challenges of PCOS head-on and embarked on a journey to reclaim her health and fitness. Listen now to be inspired by Emily’s resilience and determination to overcome PCOS and thrive in health

Emily’s Background:

Emily’s journey with PCOS began in her teens when she was diagnosed with the condition, primarily focusing on managing her acne rather than addressing the underlying hormonal imbalances. As a high school athlete and college student, Emily maintained her health through athletics. However, transitioning into adulthood and working night shifts as a nurse presented new challenges, leading to fatigue, weight gain, and decreased fitness.

Starting Her Journey:

A pivotal moment for Emily came during a hike with a friend, where she felt the impact of her declining health firsthand. Recognizing the need for change, Emily sought guidance and began working with Ashlene to address her PCOS root causes and hormonal imbalances.

Throughout Emily’s transformation journey, several key steps played a crucial role in her progress. A significant mindset shift, embracing a new strategy, and maintaining consistency despite the challenges posed by her fluctuating work schedule. 

Over time, Emily experienced improvements in her energy levels, mood, and fitness, allowing her to engage more fully in activities and feel more at ease with herself. Notably, Emily’s menstrual cycle became more regular, indicating improved hormonal balance and overall health. 

Tune in now to gain inspiration and insight into how Emily learned what her body needed and how to provide it with the holistic approach that finally helped her regain her health.

Let’s Continue The Conversation

Do you have questions about this episode or other questions about PCOS? I would love to connect and chat on a more personal level over on Instagram. My DMs are my favorite place to chat more.

 

So go visit me on IG @nourishedtohealthy.com

 

Let’s Continue The Conversation

Do you have questions about this episode or other questions about PCOS? I would love to connect and chat on a more personal level over on Instagram. My DMs are my favorite place to chat more.

 

So go visit me on IG @nourishedtohealthy.com

 

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Read The Full Episode Transcript Here

In today’s episode, I have the joy and the privilege to share the story of Emily, one of the women that I worked with a few months ago, who, after being a very strong athlete in high school and then going on to get her RN, her nursing degree in college, she felt like in her early to mid-20s was really struggling with energy and fatigue. Now, she’d been diagnosed with PCOS back in high school due to acne and irregular periods, but she felt like she had always been able to maintain her health, probably in part because she was so active but as she became a night nurse in her early 20s, she really felt her health working against her, she felt tired all the time, she felt like she had absolutely no vibrancy in her energy, in her moods, and she began to watch her fitness just plummet and started to gain a little bit of weight. She was like, this is not how I want to spend my 20s. In today’s episode, we get to talk about her journey to how she regained her fitness and how she started to begin working with her body and her hormones to balance those hormones and to work with her body to regain her sense of health and vibrancy, as well as begin maintaining and rebuilding her fitness. So with that, I’m very excited to dive into today’s episode, so let’s get started.

You’re listening to the PCOS Repair podcast, where we explore the ins and outs of PCOS and how to repair the imbalances in your hormones naturally with a little medical help sprinkled in. Hi, I’m Ashlene Korcek, and with many years of medical and personal experience with polycystic ovarian syndrome, it is my joy to watch women reverse their PCOS as they learn to nourish their bodies in a whole way. With the power of our beliefs, our mindset, and our environment, and the understanding of our genetics, we can heal at the root cause.

Welcome back to the PCOS Repair podcast, where today I get to share a success story of a young girl named Emily. She was diagnosed, like I said, with PCOS in her teens, but really didn’t undergo any treatment or any counseling as to what that meant for her health, what that meant for her hormonal imbalances. At the time, her primary concern had been her complexion and her acne and so she was referred over to a dermatologist to get treatment just for the acne. Since she wasn’t trying to get pregnant, she wasn’t too worried about the slightly irregular periods. Her overall health felt very good since she was a track runner, and also she played volleyball and various activities throughout the year. She was able to, through high school, really maintain her health and feel like her body was doing fine and throughout college, she was able to coast on that athletic ability as well as continuing to invest in her health but as she graduated from college and struggled with all of the new adulting that she had to do and holding down a full-time job that happened to be the night shift for nursing at her local community hospital, she began to feel like the stresses of balancing a social as a single early 20-year-old and also balancing the trying to achieve and move up to other wards in the hospital.

She wanted to get a job in the NICU, and she started on L&D, which was an awesome job, but she was trying to be noticed and trying to do her best because she had other ambitions of where she wanted to end up. She loved her job as a nurse, and she eventually wanted to move to days but as many of us remember from our early 20s, or perhaps you’re in your early 20s, sometimes we just have to do the job in front of us to the best of our abilities as we progress to where we want to go. Emily felt like she was just letting her health slip to the wayside, and she had always had a fairly easy time maintaining her health. In some ways, she felt like it would be there when she was ready to pick it up again. Then one weekend, she went on a hike with a friend, and she felt like, she was short of breath the whole time, her energy felt sluggish, she felt like she had cement legs, she was just having a hard time moving, she felt like her head was dizzy and light-headed, she felt almost like she felt like she was coming down with a cold, she felt like achy, she’s like, I wasn’t getting sick. She’s like, afterward, I was fine but she felt like during this exercise endeavor, she really was faced with the fact that she was not in the best of health anymore. In part for her, it was that she was switching from days to nights and so her body was completely confused of where she was in her sleep schedule and she probably felt like she should be sleeping at that time but here she was trying to hike a hill, and her body was like, What are we doing? and the confusion made her really see that her health and her body were working against her, and she needed to figure out the steps required to start working with her body again.

So this is when Emily and I started working together, she felt like just going and training harder wasn’t getting her anywhere, she felt like she started to hit a wall where she would try to train harder, she would try to lift, she would try to do cardio. Everything she did, she could do short term, and she may see a slight improvement in her health and her fitness, but then she would hit a wall. She would have to take a break or she would have to miss a day or two because of just sheer exhaustion or feeling like she wasn’t able to perform the way she wanted to at her work and she felt like she was just not able to progress past a certain point. As we started working together, it became clear to both of us that we really needed to dig into the PCOS root causes her hormone imbalance. What was her cortisol doing specifically because of her circadian rhythm and trying to push through? Whenever we’re trying to muscle our way through to better health, we always have to look and see what is that really doing to our body and what is that to relate in the long run? So how is that going to pan out over the next several months and years? and is it going to get us where we want to go? So for Emily, she started to realize that her night schedule and flipping all the way to days and the fact that she preferred to be a morning person was working against her and so she needed to establish as even of a circadian rhythm as she could and so that took some looking at both her mindset around her nighttime job and her days off and how she wanted her schedule to be and looking at there’s what we want to have happen, and then there’s what would probably be a better way of setting up her schedule.

That’s a big mindset shift for a lot of us, is sometimes we have this idea of, Well, this is how I want it to be. Now, in Emily’s case, understanding how she wants it to be is a really good thing, but it may not work for today. In her situation, she may realize that when available, she would prefer to be on days so that she can create the schedule that she wants for herself but until that’s a possibility, she needs to work with where she’s at in her current lifestyle. Instead of pushing herself and overly harming her hormones, to readjust her expectations and to readjust where she was with her current schedule. As she started to look at that, she began to, one, give herself some grace on some transition time. I think this is really important, sometimes we look at our calendar and we can be like, Oh, technically, I should be able to be here at this time and then transition really fast and then do this and then do this, this is when I’m going to rest and sleep and sometimes it’s so regimented that our body just says, It’s not working for me and that’s what Emily’s body was telling her, is that what she was asking of it was beyond its capacity and to be able to do it well at the level that she had trained so far, at the level of what she was expecting it to do elsewhere and so the combination of setting up her schedule for success. I think that sometimes is such a first important step that we often skip over and so I am really drawing this part of her story out because I want you to hear this part. Set yourself up for success in how you plan this realistic goals. If it’s not working, if you feel like it is too hard to meet your scheduling that you have set out for yourself, something needs to be adjusted. Now, when we know our schedule is fine and we just don’t feel like getting up and going out in the rain and the cold because it’s February at the time of this recording, and we don’t want to go for the walk or the run that we set for ourselves, that’s different.

We know the difference but when we expect ourselves to go from this activity to that and it’s just tight and we’re rushing, and then we’re unhappy with the way that we were able to perform because we didn’t give ourselves transition to get our head in the game, that’s where we need to look at, are we setting ourselves up for success or are we just on paper? Technically, it looks like we should be able to, but we’re not really going to be successful in our endeavors that we have laid out.

As Emily began to make that mindset shift that while she technically only worked three nights a week, the swapping between days and nights took extra time for her, and she needed to work that into her schedule to care for her with the her body and allow her body to not get more and more behind on sleep and to allow her body to have a rhythm that really worked for her long term. She was going to be nice for the foreseeable future and being able to set herself up in a way where she could do that sustainably without becoming exhausted was crucial to her getting good workouts in.

The next important step for her was to work up gradually in her fitness level. She had been a really strong athlete in high school, she had continued to exercise through college, but then as she began her career, she started to really slide on her intensity. When you think about how much she had slid from her intensity from high school, it was a lot. To expect herself to be able to go back and run at that level that she had run in high school, to be able to just go to the gym and lift weights at the duration and weight capacity that she had previously, it was expecting too much of her body. She was burning herself out, she was getting injured, she was having to take rest days that were not normal, like built-in rest days. She was having to take whole periods of rest for a couple of days in a row to start feeling like she could just manage her day to day again and so this is the other really important point that I want you to take away from Emily’s story, is that we can’t compare ourselves to others, but we also can’t compare ourselves to where we’ve been in the past or how we’ve been in the past.

What we have learned from the past is always with us. Sometimes we have improved past that, and we need to trust ourselves in ways that we didn’t trust ourselves in the past. Sometimes we’ve let certain aspects of our lives be on the back burner, and as we pick them back up again, especially things like with fitness, we need to recognize that it’s going to take us some time to ramp up to where we have been before, and we can’t compare ourselves to, Well, I used to be able to do this, I should be able to do this now, it doesn’t serve us. We can do it all we want, but if we do, we are setting ourselves up for injury, we’re setting ourselves up for disappointment and frustration and discouragement with ourselves instead of honoring where we’re currently at with our fitness. As Emily got restarted into her fitness program, she started walking where she had been running and adding in some power walking intervals and then some jogging intervals and really worked up her stamina. It actually had a lot less to do with her ability, and this is where it can be really interesting.

We can have an ability to go out and run a mile or two or even three, four, five, depending on where we’re currently at with our fitness but if we haven’t been doing it recently and we start just doing that higher level of where we’ve been before, even if our bodies can do it, we haven’t built up the stamina and so you can push yourself to the level that your body allows you to energy-wise. If you feel zapped, then you may want to just dial it back just a little bit because you should feel in a really good way energized and fatigued. You’re ready to have a really good night’s sleep and you’re happily tired, not like, I am so exhausted, I can barely drag myself to bed, that or drag myself out the next morning. Those are things where you may be pushing yourself a little too fast, a little too far, and you may just want to dial it back a little bit and continue to push yourself, but maybe not quite so much.

So along with this, we supported Emily’s PCOS root cause hormone imbalance with proper nutrition for what she had going on, and she started to pack the lunches and again, her specific situation she began to eat her meals in a way where her eating stayed fairly consistent because when we think about our cortisol and our stress levels and our overall circadian rhythms and our body’s rhythms, it works so much better to try to keep our meals more or less the same from day to day and not switching it too much between days and nights when she’s having to switch between days and nights on her career. One of the beautiful that she began to see is that as she started to see the progress, first thing she started to feel was more at ease with herself. She started to feel like she was not having to push so hard. At beginning, she felt like, Well, this is probably going to be not very effective. She’s like, this feels nice, I feel less stressed, I feel more at ease with things but if I feel at ease, I’m not going to get the results that I want but I do start to feel like I have more energy. She felt less fatigued, she did note that she started to feel a little bit more happy and a little bit more vibrant, especially on her days off when she got to see the sun.

Then slowly, she felt like she was able to push herself a little bit harder and began to build in hope and confidence that she was going to be able to get where she wanted to with her fitness. So fast forward a few months, and we were always progressing with our health and fitness. This isn’t something that is a one and done, and I’ve reached my success point, and so now it’s over for me. So she will always continue to work with her body and all of that but after a few months, if you fast forward to her story to a few months ago when I spoke with her last, she was able to be in a rhythm with her fitness that she was in love with, she felt like she was finally able to do the activities that she wanted to do again on her days off, she was able to go hiking and to play and to engage with active friends and not be the one that was holding everyone back. She felt like also her mental state was so much more clear on how to not just balance her fitness and her health, but how to incorporate it in her life as a young adult. She said she began to feel more successful at work, she felt like her sleep was better, she felt like her focus in what her priorities were for her day was better and then she also added that she felt like her acne routine, although she had pretty good skincare regimen by this point, was so much more receptive and really falling into place where she rarely broke out anymore and then she also mentioned that although she was okay going longer between having periods, she was happy to see that her period had become more and more regular and while she was of the mindset that less was better, she’s like, honestly, I know from my health that having this be really regular, especially as she approaches a time in her life where she may start wanting to think about starting a family, that she was very happy to see that her period was becoming an every 35 day part of her life, which it had never been before. Ideally, she’d be closer to the 28 days, but that’s just how periods go. They take a little while to fully dial into that regular pattern and the fact that she was being able to see that really shows that her body felt at ease. It felt at ease even with a night schedule, it felt at ease with how she was caring for herself and even more so, when we see our periods return in a regular pattern like that, it tells us, it’s direct feedback from our bodies that they feel safe, that they feel like our environment is not stressful, that they feel like it’s being taken care of and that is a beautiful thing to see that our body had been struggling, that had been at odds, had been hanging on for dear life. Then all of a sudden, as months go by, of really carrying and leaning into what your body needs to see such a delicate part of our health, to see that fertility in that period, come back and say, I feel safe, I think that I can be here every month. That’s something where when we listen to our body’s cues like that and work with our body to regain our health instead of trying to push through and muscle through and force something that really needs to be cared for and nurtured. It’s a beautiful thing, and it’s a beautiful thing to see women experience that and to discover that for themselves, especially after putting in so much hard work.

So I hope that you can see parts of your story here in Emily’s story today, because everyone has such a unique lifestyle, has such a unique need for how they need to approach their PCOS health, not just because we all have different root causes or environments that we’re in or different habits and lifestyle patterns but our lifestyles have different needs. We can’t just go out and get another job because it doesn’t work with our hormones. When we can see that, you know what? We don’t have to make everything ideal to make huge progress and have a huge impact on our health. I hope that brings you some excitement and some hope and some encouragement today as you listen. I would love to hear in my Instagram DMs what your biggest takeaway is from this story, what you found to be encouraging or inspiring. I would love to share it with Emily, she was gracious enough to let me share her story here on the podcast. I would love for her to be able to hear some of the feedback from our listeners because it can feel vulnerable to share our story, even if she’s not on here with me, is still a little bit anonymous with not sharing her last name and so forth but being able to share our stories helps us connect with others, helps others not feel alone, and it’s a gift. If you have a takeaway, an aha moment, a favorite part of this, or something that inspired and gave you hope, I would love to hear from you over on Instagram. Until next time, bye for now.

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About Show

Welcome to The PCOS Repair Podcast!

I’m Ashlene Korcek, and each week I’ll be sharing the latest findings on PCOS and how to make practical health changes to your lifestyle to repair your PCOS at the root cause.

If you’re struggling with PCOS, know that you’re not alone. In fact, it’s estimated that one in ten women have PCOS. But the good news is that there is a lot we can do to manage our symptoms and live healthy, happy lives.

So whether you’re looking for tips on nutrition, exercise, supplements, or mental health, you’ll find it all here on The PCOS Repair Podcast. Ready to get started? Hit subscribe now